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Amazing Moments Are Awaiting You In Britain!

Whether you are visiting London for the first time or are an Anglophile, Britain offers an amazing array of authentic cultural experiences, that are uniquely British, yet also surprising and unexpected. From its breathtaking countryside, royal traditions, iconic heritage and modern culture, England, Scotland and Wales are full of unique people and places.

Your Great Britain Travel Specialist

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Travel Information

Plan your trip today! Helpful tips as you plan your trip to Great Britain.

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Destination Overview

From ancient traditions to rich cultures, learn about the unique place that is Great Britain.

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City Guides

From London to historic Bath, Britain offers options for culture vultures, foodies and more.

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Things To Do

Activities

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Where would you like to go?
Walk in the footsteps of historic kings and queens, stroll over hills and moors on the most beautiful springtime walks, and embrace both old and new in the best of Britain’s museums and galleries. All this and more await: start exploring our travel features here.

EXPERIENCE THE PRIDE AND PREJUDICE LIFESTYLE

Have a Ball in Bath, England
See the lovely golden hue of the stones in Bath, lining the crescent shaped streets and realize you are walking in the footsteps of your favourite author Jane Austen, in route to a delicious afternoon tea at the Pump Room where she would have danced the night away at a ball. After fueling with tea and scones, head to the Jane Austen Centre to sit down and pen a letter to the Mr. Darcy of your dreams. Visit in September 2016 and you may just make your dreams a reality at the Jane Austen Festival, featuring an annual regency ball. Be on the lookout for your Mr. Darcy, anything is possible in the world of Austen.

Chatsworth, Derbyshire, England
Austen’s books feature a number of grand country houses, many of which are based on real British stately homes. One of these is Chatsworth, which Elizabeth Bennet actually visits in ‘Pride and Prejudice’. It was also the inspiration for Mr Darcy’s home estate of Pemberley.

Surrounded by the dramatic countryside of the Peak District, and home to a vast collection of historical artworks, it’s just the place to get a sense of life in Austen’s era. Don’t miss the garden, with its water features, sculpture and views over the park.

Jane Austen’s House Museum, Hampshire, England
Jane Austen spent the last eight years of her life in Chawton, a Hampshire village between Winchester and London. This is where she did much of her mature writing, including ‘Persuasion’ and ‘Emma’, and revised several of her earlier works.

It’s practically hallowed-ground for her fans, and even if you’re not familiar with her writing, it’s a fascinating 17th-century home in an idyllic village which will tell you the story of her life. After her death, Jane Austen was buried in nearby Winchester Cathedral, a towering gothic building that’s also well worth a visit.

Jane Austen style transport
Jane Austen and her characters spent plenty of time riding about in carriages. If you want to live like Jane Austen, this is a must. In Windsor, you can couple the experience with a bit of sightseeing too, and hire a carriage that will take you around the Great Park. With the right outfit, people might even mistake you for a Royal. For the male characters of course, it’s all about riding. You’ll find horse-riding available all over Britain, but since Mr Darcy’s house was based on Chatsworth, it’ll feel most authentic in the Peak District.

WINTER IDEAS
Winter’s lovely but it can really put a chill in your bones. Luckily, we’ve gathered together some places where you can warm up and restore that rosy-cheeked good cheer. Warming whisky tastings, a hot soak in a steamy spa or settling down around an open fire in a cosy pub: we’ve plenty of ideas to keep you feeling toasty.

Hot spas
Get out of the cold and into the wonderful warmth of a nice hot spa. Some of Britain’s best known include Thermae Bath Spa — the only natural hot spring in the UK — where you can enjoy a hot soak and look out over Bath’s historic buildings. Alternatively, grab a towel and admire the decorated Turkish-style tiles of Harrogate’s Victorian bath house beneath your bare feet as you make for the sauna.

Tropical greenhouses
If tropical plants are growing there, chances are it’s nice and warm: the Eden Project in Cornwall is one such hotspot. It houses the largest rainforest in captivity and it’s a green maze of jungle, crashing waterfalls and spectacular plants all growing beneath its giant geodesic domes. Most certainly a warm, tropical place to explore in the depths of winter. Up in London, you can linger among the palms in Kew Garden’s steamy Victorian Palm House, or get cosy in its rainforest area.

Winter dance festivals
Get your dancing shoes on and head to a winter festival. If you like the sound of ceilidhs (traditional Scottish dance parties pronounced “kaylees”) and traditional music, head to Glasgow’s Celtic Connections festival in early January for some lively dancing, duelling fiddles and the thump of hands on drums.

Cosy pubs
Provided it hasn’t been taken by a resident dog or cat, you should be able to find some premium space by the fireside in one of Britain’s traditional pubs. The Kirkstile Inn up in The Lake District is a classic country pub with log fires, old oak beams, hearty food and tasty beers, with plenty of rooms if you want to make a weekend of it. Down in Rye, the 12th-century Mermaid Inn — once popular among smugglers — has two huge lounges warmed by roaring fires, centuries of history and plenty of delicious food and drink.

Food markets
While winter food markets do tend to be outside, they also tend to sell plenty of hot mulled wine, warmed country cider and lots of delicious hot snacks to keep you warm. Borough Market in London in one of the best known, while Christkindelmarkt up in Leeds is an authentic German Christmas market – be sure to try some stollen.

Fire festivals
While we don’t recommend getting too close to anything that’s actually on fire, for obvious reasons, there are a number of fire-based winter events across Britain that might throw some stray warmth your way. In the Shetland Isles in January, Up Helly Aa is a great fiery Viking celebration with torch-lit processions that culminates in the burning of a Viking longship. Or, in Northumberland, stand back as brave townsfolk run past carrying burning barrels of tar on their backs to see in the New Year.

Curry restaurants
If you ever needed an excuse to go for curry, keeping warm could be it. Britain has some of the best South Asian food in the world. Tuck into delicious spicy food at some of the UK’s premier curry hotspots, from Brick Lane and Tayyabs in London to the neon-lit eateries of Manchester’s Curry Mile.

Cooking courses
Hole up in a kitchen this winter and indulge in a seasonal cookery course, from masterclasses on the perfect Christmas dinner to hand making chocolates. Ashburton Cookery school in Devon is one of the best known, with Pudding Pie in Banbury another tasty-sounding spot to learn kitchen-based wisdom.

Whisky tastings
A dram of whisky can’t fail to restore some much needed warmth on a chilly evening. If you’d like to discover the many different types available – to research which is the most warming, naturally – you’ll find plenty of distilleries in Scotland. Try the Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh to get a range of tastes, or head for your favourite single malt’s headquarters. Glen Moray and Glen Morangie are two of our favorites.

ROMANTIC BRITAIN
If you’re looking for places to woo your lover, or exciting places to travel with your nearest and dearest, Britain has everything you need. Dramatic landscapes, quirky bars, romantic weekends in cozy cottages or adventures through the countryside in a campervan for two.

First date?
Stuck for first date ideas? Britain’s cities will give you plenty of options. Stroll arm in arm through one of London’s royal parks and settle at a cozy bar, or practice your boating skills with some punting in Cambridge.

If you’re both outdoors types, a walk up Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh should get the heart racing. In Wales, explore the Brecon Beacons National Park for some romantic stargazing in one of Britain’s best Dark Skies spots.

Valentine’s Day
Head over to London’s Columbia Road Flower Market on Sunday morning to find the perfect blooms for your loved one, then treat yourselves to a romantic view over London from the top of The Shard, Europe’s tallest building.

If you’re down in Cornwall, soak up the rural splendor of the Lizard Peninsula and explore its whitewashed coastal villages, or up in Manchester, spend a day buying some great new records in the cool Northern Quarter. For dinner choose between country inns in Sussex, lavish eateries in London’s Mayfair, or a tower-top restaurant like Liverpool’s Panoramic 34.

Honeymoon travels
Unwind after the wedding with a road trip around Britain, taking it all in in a vintage car or a VW Campervan. Drive in style through Yorkshire’s two National Parks, and stop to explore any romantic spots that take your fancy: the shady, atmospheric Fountain’s Abbey is a good bet as is the grand elegance of Chatsworth House not far away in Derbyshire.

If a honeymoon on the road isn’t for you, head down to Devon and stay in Rose Cottage, an 18th-century thatched gem set among the rolling green countryside of North Devon. You can head out on bicycles and explore the Tarka Trail by day, perhaps stop for a picnic, or arrange for the local pub to deliver a tasty meal to your door. Another good option is Moorland View in the Dartmoor National Park. It's a traditional English cottage with chic and luxurious bedrooms in a beautiful setting.

Pampering for two
A weekend of luxuriant pampering can’t fail to impress. Make like Romans in Bath and enjoy the naturally hot springs of Thermae Bath Spa, which does special spa days for two. Or, for even more luxury, try the Charlton House Spa Hotel in Somerset where you can combine spa treatments with accommodation, breakfast and champagne. In Hampshire, visit Chewton Glen in the heart of the New Forest for some atmospheric relaxation surrounded by natural beauty.

Arts

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British Theatre, Opera and Dance
Britain is a nation of drama lovers and in the land that brought you Shakespeare, you'll never be far from some of the best and most varied theatre in the world.

You could start with the smash shows and glitzy musicals in London’s historic ‘Theatreland’ where 40 theatres jostle for your attention. Or, if Shakespeare’s more your thing, head straight to the glorious re-creation of Shakespeare’s Elizabethan Globe Theatre on the south bank of the River Thames. His birthplace at Stratford-upon-Avon, home to the internationally renowned Royal Shakespeare Company, is also a must-see.

London is also home to the Royal Opera House where world-class opera takes place in a beautiful setting and Sadler’s Wells Theatre, the hub of dance in the UK where you can catch everything from flamenco to hip-hop.

Elsewhere, The Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester, housed in a spectacular former Cotton Exchange building, is known for first-rate classic and modern productions, while Birmingham’s REP theatre is fully deserving of its reputation as a centre for excellent drama.

Scotland’s capital is best known for the explosive arts jamboree that is the annual Edinburgh Festivals. But visit Edinburgh at any time of the year and you’ll find world-class theatre at some of the UK’s best venues. The Edinburgh Festival Theatre has the biggest stage of any theatre in Britain and is the venue for Edinburgh's most well-regarded shows.

Glasgow is a hotbed of theatrical action and is home to Scottish Opera, the Scottish Ballet and the National Theatre of Scotland. Head to the Citizen's Theatre to witness ground-breaking contemporary drama or the Tron or The Tramway both known for demanding and thought-provoking work.

If you’re in Cardiff, a visit to the Wales Millennium Centre is a must. It hosts everything from touring West End musicals to ballet and modern dance in a high-tech building that’s worth a look in itself. If you don’t have time for a show, pop in for a backstage tour or a drink in the bar. Free concerts are held daily in the foyer.

Writers and Poets
Follow in the footsteps of Britain's greatest authors.

Britain has produced some of the world's greatest writers and the British landscape has inspired some of the world's most famous stories, poems and plays.

When it comes to literary greats and the locations they wrote about, you’d be hard pushed to find as many as we have in Britain. From Shakespeare’s birthplace at Stratford-upon-Avon to the cobbled alleyways of Charles Dickens’ London, the places in your favorite British stories are just waiting to be explored. And many are just the same today as when our literary greats first experienced them…

You could start at Westminster Abbey in London to see Poets’ Corner where some of our greatest writers are buried including Chaucer, Kipling and the poet Tennyson. Then why not head north to the Lake District where the poet William Wordsworth first saw his ‘host of golden daffodils’? This beautiful National Park is also where Beatrix Potter settled and wrote her beloved children’s books from her enchanting cottage, Hill Top.

In Scotland you’ll discover Robert Burns, Scotland’s national poet and the composer of Auld Lang Syne. The Robert Burns Birthplace Museum has rare manuscripts and a unique insight into Scotland’s national hero and his work. And you won’t want to miss Edinburgh, the historic Scottish capital where J K Rowling wrote Harry Potter and where crime novelist Ian Rankin sets his Rebus detective stories.

In Wales, a land of poetry and song, you can see where Dylan Thomas explored his native South Wales and created the lilting poetry and prose that reflects so vividly the Welsh character and landscape.

And if you’re bringing your kids on holiday, the Roald Dahl Museum in Buckinghamshire is a great place to get a magical glimpse into the wonderful mind that gave us Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Witches and many more.

Fall in love with the words of these writers, then come and see what inspired them yourself!

Top 10 public artworks
Art is everywhere! You don’t need to go to an art gallery to see art in the UK, public art is everywhere – at stations, in shopping centres and on the streets. And the best thing? It’s absolutely free.

Here are 10 pieces well worth seeing.

Angel of the North
Gateshead, England

Probably the most famous and well-liked piece of public art in the UK, Antony Gormley’s towering 70ft (20m) winged figure stands guard over Newcastle and has become an icon of contemporary art. It’s also one of the most viewed pieces of art in the world - seen by more than one person every second, 90,000 every day or 33 million every year. Most of these are driving by on the A1 but it’s well worth stopping off to see the Angel up close.

Another place
Crosby, England

Antony Gormley’s second piece on our list consists of 100 cast-iron, life-sized figures spread out along 3km of the foreshore, stretching almost 1km out to sea. Covered by successive tides the piece looks different depending on the level of the water and the pensive figures, each staring continually out to sea are hypnotic. You can currently see Gormley’s new piece, 6 Times, in Edinburgh. The work consists of six life-sized figures positioned between the grounds of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and the ocean.

Fourth Plinth Trafalgar Square
London, England

The fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square was originally designed in 1841 to display an equestrian statue but when funds ran out the plinth remained empty for over 150 years. In 1998 three pieces were commissioned to be displayed temporarily on the plinth. From then on it’s seen regularly rotating works with highlights including Thomas Schütte’s Model for a Hotel (2007) and Marc Quinn’s Alison Lapper Pregnant (2005). At the time of writing, Yinka Shonibare’s Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle occupies this coveted spot.

The Doulton Fountain
Glasgow, Scotland

The biggest terracotta fountain in the world and the best preserved of its kind, the Doulton Fountain is superbly sculptural. Festooned with Victorian colonial detail it was designed to celebrate Britain’s Imperial achievements and includes statues representing Australia, Canada, India and South Africa. It stands on Glasgow Green in view of the equally spectacular Templeton Carpet Factory.

Burghers of Calais
Hopkins London, England

Rodin’s moving sculpture depicts the leaders of Calais sacrificing themselves to King Edward III during the Hundred Years War in order to spare the rest of Calais’ inhabitants. Slightly bigger than lifesize and wearing nooses around their necks, the six figures are tragic, wonderfully expressive and utterly compelling. You can see the bronze in Victoria Tower Gardens in Westminster.

Post Secrets
Cardiff, Wales

Jane Edden’s ordinary looking bollards are dotted around the Hayes and St David's shopping centre in Cardiff. Each bollard has a small peep-hole that you can peer through to see a small scene played out by monochrome figures. The 11 bollards are like little worlds that transport you away from the hubbub of Cardiff’s busy streets. Post Secrets is made all the more charming by the fact that you feel you’ve discovered a secret.

3 ellipses for 3 locks
Cardiff, Wales

A series of three yellow ellipses have been painted onto the working locks, gates and even the outer sea wall of the Cardiff Bay Barrage to create a piece that took a year to plan. From virtually every angle the marks look like splashes of random yellow color. But from one specific vantage point three perfectly formed yellow ellipses appear. Felice Varini's 'anamorphic illusion' is intriguing and absorbing.

Striding Arches
Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland

Andy Goldsworthy is famous for his use of natural and often perishable materials. In the past he’s made intricate sculptures from leaves, icicles and flowers. Striding Arches is a permanent sculpture consisting of red sandstone arches that ‘stride’ around the natural amphitheatre that is Cairnhead, deep in the Southern Uplands. The self-supporting arches symbolize a celebration and monument to the Scottish people and the travels they have made’.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Yorkshire, England

Set in the grounds of the Bretton Estate the Yorkshire Sculpture Park is brimming with large-scale outdoor pieces that cover a 500 acre site ranging from woodland to rolling grassland. Artists represented include Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and Eduardo Paolozzi. YSP presents changing special exhibitions and individual works by eminent artists all year round, so there are always at least 40 sculptures on display.

Memorial to the Engine Room Heroes
Liverpool, England

Sir William Goscombe John’s granite obelisk at Pier Head, Liverpool, is a moving tribute to the brave engineering crew of the Titanic. These men, many of whom came from Liverpool, stayed at their posts and kept the ship's lights going as long as possible. After the horrors of World War I the statue was rededicated to ‘honour…all heroes of the marine engine room’. This sombre tribute is part of Liverpool’s fascinating maritime history, commemorating the port’s long association with the ocean and its often unforgiving power.

Beaches

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Brighton
Brighton is more than the seaside, more than the city and the mix is more than double the fun. Fashionable, funky and loaded with style, Brighton & Hove has everything you could want from a trip to Britain - a royal palace, elegant Regency architecture, museums with more, laid-back beach life and superb shopping – all this on the south coast of England, just 49 minutes from central London.

Orkney
Orkney, off the northern tip of mainland Scotland, is a group of over 70 islands, only 17 of which are inhabited. Most of Orkney’s locals live in the main towns of Kirkwall and Stromness, where you'll find great tourist attractions and activities to suit every interest. The quiet sandy beaches, stunning scenery, abundance of wildlife, fresh quality cuisine and warm welcoming hospitality make these islands an ideal place for a relaxing visit or an action-packed holiday.

Devon
One of England’s sunniest counties, Devon’s home to surfing lessons on long sandy beaches, hidden coves, wild camping on rugged Dartmoor and leisurely drives along country lanes. Get ready for rolling green fields, clotted cream, fresh crab sandwiches by the harbour and cider in a country pub. Devon really does have everything.

Dorset
Dorset offers the 'best of England' - delightful rolling countryside, World Heritage coastline, pretty villages, historic market towns, colorful events, attractions and lovely accommodation. Dorset is the place to experience sailing, windsurfing and other watersports (Weymouth and Portland proudly hosted the Olympic sailing events in 2012). If you’re feeling adventurous, why not try your hand at kitesurfing or wakeboarding? For something a little more relaxing take a walk along the gloriously scenic South West Coast Path or a bit of fishing.

Culture

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Top 10 ROYAL ATTRACTIONS
A peek inside our favourite royal landmarks

Britain is packed with historic monuments, royal palaces and some of the world's top museums. Visit the house where Shakespeare was born, climb cathedral spires, explore the Queen’s favourite home at Windsor Castle or uncover the Tower of London’s dark history

Ever wondered where the Queen spends her Christmas holiday? Or what Henry VIII's home looked like? Then you'll be pleased to know our royal family aren't as secretive as you might think. Have a snoop around our top 10 royal attractions and make yourself at home.

1. Buckingham Palace
One of Britain’s most recognisable landmarks, Buckingham Palace is the office and official residence of the Queen. Every August and September the Queen opens her home to visitors, giving you the chance to tour the lavish State Rooms and Garden, and see some great treasures from the Royal Collection along the way. And don’t forget to catch the spectacular Changing the Guard ceremony - daily from May to July, and on alternative days for the rest of the year.

2. Kensington Palace
Kensington Palace has been home to many members of the Royal Family, including Queen Victoria, Diana, Princess of Wales, and now the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Pay the Palace a visit and discover stories from Queen Victoria's life told in her own words in the Victoria Revealed exhibition; master the games of royal court in the magnificent King's State Apartments; get a glimpse of a modern Princess in a special exhibition of some of Diana's dresses and uncover the secrets of a fragile dynasty in the beautiful Queen's State Apartments.

3. Windsor Castle
Not only is Windsor Castle the Queen’s favourite residence, it’s also the largest and oldest occupied castle in the world. Don’t miss the magnificent State Apartments, St George’s Chapel (the burial ground of 10 monarchs), the Drawings Gallery with its changing exhibitions, and Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House - the most famous dolls’ house in the world.

4. Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey is steeped in over 1000 years of history, and has been the setting for the Coronation of every English monarch from 1066. It has also seen 16 royal weddings, including the Queen’s marriage to HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, and most recently, the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

5. Balmoral Castle & Estate
Purchased by Queen Victoria in 1848, Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire has been a private Scottish home of the British Royal Family ever since. The Queen and her family usually spend their summer on the estate, which opens its grounds, gardens and Castle Ballroom to the public from April to July each year.

6. Sandringham House & Estate
Sandringham House in Norfolk is one of the Queen’s favourite houses, and where she chooses to spend Christmas with her family. Since 1862, Sandringham has been the private home of four generations of monarchs and was once described as ‘The most comfortable house in England’. You can see for yourself as the house, gardens and museum are open to the public from April to November.

7. Palace of Holyroodhouse
No trip to Edinburgh would be complete without a visit to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Queen’s official residence in Scotland. The Palace is best known as the home of Mary, Queen of Scots – she was married here, and witnessed the brutal killing of her secretary in her private apartments. A tour of the Palace will take you to the State Apartments, the gardens and the Queen’s Gallery, where you’ll find changing exhibitions from the Royal Collection.

8. Hampton Court Palace
The magnificent Hampton Court Palace in Richmond, London, was Henry VIII’s favourite royal residence. Step back in time for a taste of Tudor life in Henry VIII’s kitchens; lose yourself in the famous Hampton Court Maze; attend a service at the beautiful Chapel Royal and explore the Hampton Court gardens – internationally renowned for being amongst the most beautiful gardens in the world.

9. Edinburgh Castle
Perched on top of an extinct volcano at the top of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, Edinburgh Castle is the city’s most popular tourist attraction. It became Scotland's chief royal castle in the Middle Ages and is now home to the Scottish Crown Jewels, the Stone of Destiny, the famous 15th century gun Mons Meg, the One O' Clock Gun and the National War Museum of Scotland.

10. Tower of London
One of the world’s most famous fortresses, the Tower of London has seen service as a royal palace, prison, armoury and even a zoo. Today, it’s a World Heritage Site, where you’ll be dazzled by the Crown Jewels; hear tales from the Tower on a Yeoman Warder tour; stand in the spot where Henry VIII’s wives Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard were executed and discover 500 years of spectacular royal armour in the Fit for a King exhibition.

Events

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JANUARY
New Year’s Day Parade & Festival, London
1 January
The New Year’s Day Parade in London has evolved into one of the world’s great street spectaculars with up to 10,000 performers from across the world and boasts a street-side audience approaching 500,000. The 2016 Parade will be filled with marching bands, cheerleaders, clowns, acrobats, kites and much more.

London International Mime Festival, London
9 January – 6 February
First held in 1977, the London International Mime Festival is now held every January and features an extravaganza of innovative visual theatre across the capital. Major venues such as the Southbank Centre, Barbican, Royal Opera House and Roundhouse play host to puppets, slapstick and mime.

Slapstick Festival, Silent Comedy Film Gala, Bristol, west England
21 – 24 January
Held annually at Bristol’s Colston Hall the Silent Comedy Film Gala celebrates the start of the city’s Slapstick festival of vintage comedy film and TV. Topping the triple film bill at the 2016 event will be a landmark in world cinema: Charlie Chaplin’s first full-length feature The Kid accompanied by a 15-piece orchestra playing Chaplin’s own score. Other slapstick favourites will include Cops (1922), starring Buster Keaton, the master of the stone-face and featuring live music from the European Silent Screen Virtuosi and Mighty Like a Moose (1926) – Charley Chase’s gala debut.

Burns’ Night, Scotland
25 January
Every January Scotland celebrates the birthday of Robert Burns, the nation’s very own Bard, with food, drams, dancing and verse. Don’t forget to address the haggis!

Up Helly Aa, Shetland, Scotland *QUIRKY!*
26 January
Up Helly Aa is a tradition that originated in the 1880s. This annual event in Shetland is Europe’s largest fire festival and involves a torchlit procession, the burning of a Viking longship and a ceilidh that lasts late into the night. The festival heralds the end of winter and the beginning of spring.

FEBRUARY
Imagine Festival, Southbank, London
February – Date TBC
Each day, Imagine offers a packed programme of free and ticketed events for all ages, from opera for babies to talks for adults, and the chance for children to meet their favourite authors who will bring much-loved characters to life.

Olney Pancake Race, Buckinghamshire, England *QUIRKY!*
9 February
The unique Olney Pancake Race literally stops traffic as energetic local ladies in traditional housewife attire (including skirt, apron and scarf), run through the streets of Olney. The tradition supposedly began in the 15th century when a local housewife heard the ringing of the bell summoning the congregation to church while she was making her Shrove Tuesday pancakes – in a rush, she raced to church carrying her frying pan. The course is 415-yards long and the pancakes must be tossed at the start and finish. The winner receives a kiss from the Verger at the end of the race, and a Shriving Service follows in the parish church.

Jorvik Viking Festival, York, north England
15 – 21 February
The annual Jorvik Viking Festival is a city-wide celebration of York’s Viking heritage organised by York Archaeological Trust, creators of Jorvik Viking Centre. Recognised as the largest Viking Festival in the Europe, it attracts more than 40,000 visitors to the city of York and commemorates the traditional celebrations called ‘Jolablot’ the Vikings held each February to herald the coming of spring and the survival of winter hardships.

Glasgow Film Festival, Glasgow, London
17 – 28 February
The Glasgow Film Festival is the fastest-growing and third-largest film event in Britain with over 350 events.

MARCH
The National St David's Day Parade, Cardiff, Wales

1 March
The streets of the Welsh capital celebrates St David and all things Welsh – look out for eisteddfods, traditional celebrations of Welsh culture and music.

WOW – Women of the World Festival, Southbank Centre, London
March – date TBC
Southbank Centre’s WOW – Women of the World Festival celebrates its sixth year in 2016 and returns to champion the incredible achievements of women and girls and explore the most potent topics for women today. WOW 2016 will again feature voices from around the world and shine the spotlight on a broad and diverse spectrum of topical women’s subjects through its ground-breaking mix of talks and debates, keynotes, concerts, performances, film, comedy, workshops, WOW bites, how-tos, speed mentoring and networking opportunities.

Cheltenham Festival, Cheltenham, South West
15 –18 March
Held close to the lovely Regency town of Cheltenham, this National Hunt race meeting attracts prize money second only to the Grand National. Famous for the roar arising from the stands as the tape is raised for the start of the first race on the Tuesday, the excitement continues to build until its climax with Friday’s signature Gold Cup – one of the greatest of all jump-racing events.

Glasgow International Comedy Festival, Glasgow
10 – 27 March
The Glasgow International Comedy Festival features a line up of both big league players and emerging talent performing over two and a half weeks in venues throughout the city.

St Patrick’s Day, Northern Ireland
17 March
The national saint of Ireland is celebrated in traditional fashion with festivals, parades, carnivals and concerts the length and breadth of Northern Ireland.

Oxford & Cambridge Boat Race, London
27 March
First raced in 1829 the Boat Race is one of the oldest sporting events in the world. Watched by thousands along the banks of The Tideway, between Putney and Mortlake in south London, this unique sporting event sees two strong squads of athletes competing in yet another great race.

APRIL
The Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival, Oxford, south England
2 – 10 April
Over 350 writers flock to the famous University city to discuss affairs literary, political, historical, environmental and culinary for the eight-day Oxford Literary Festival, hosted in Christ Church College among its Tudor hall and cloisters. Visitors can also book to join guided literary walks, lunches and dinner parties with prominent authors. Since 2008, a creative-writing course has also formed part of the programme.

Grand National Meeting, Aintree Racecourse, Liverpool, north-west England
7 – 9 April
The most famous chase in the world takes place on Saturday 11 April, the final day of the meeting, when a daunting test for racehorse and rider sees competitors make two circuits of the Grand National course, tackling 30 fences as the four-and-a-half miles course is covered.

London Coffee Festival, Old Truman Brewery, London
7 – 10 April
Arabica aficionados can celebrate London coffee culture at this dedicated festival, which brings together a range of coffee-related activities under one roof, as well as art and food spin-off events.

Gateshead International Jazz Festival, Gateshead, north-east England
15 – 17 April
The Sage Gateshead will host the 11th Gateshead International Jazz Festival – the first in the UK jazz calendar year.

St George’s Day, England
23 April
There’s plenty to mark St George’s Day, the patron saint of England, with activities ranging from festivals, ‘dragon’ hunts, medieval banquets and events surrounding the birth of Shakespeare – also on 23 April.

Shakespeare’s Birthday Celebrations, Stratford-upon-Avon, central England
23 – 24 April
Every year a unique event takes place in Stratford-upon-Avon to mark the birth of the world’s greatest playwright and 2016 will see even more celebrations as the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death is market. The birthday celebrations are a tradition going back nearly 200 years and are held on the weekend closest to William Shakespeare’s birthday on April 23.

Virgin London Marathon, London
24 April
The Virgin London Marathon is a phenomenal event to be a part of, not just for the physical challenge, but also because it is the world's largest fundraising event. The London Marathon is one of the five top marathons that make up the World Marathon Majors.

Cheltenham Jazz Festival, Gloucestershire, west England
27 April – 2 May
Every year, Cheltenham Jazz Festival represents the start of the summer in Cheltenham and is a great way to spend the long weekend over May Bank Holiday.

Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, Strathspey, Scotland
28 April – 2 May
Spirited, inspiring, Scottish, 300 events over five days. Discover the passion behind the world’s finest whiskies.

MAY
Maldon Mud Race, Essex, east England *QUIRKY!*

1 May
Join 250 competitors in this mad scramble through the stinking, ink-black mud of the Blackwater Estuary in Essex. Entrants are advised to get a tetanus jab and tape their shoes to their feet. Not for the faint-hearted, then, but lots of fun for anyone watching.

Highland Games, across Scotland
May – September – Dates TBC
Around 100 Highland games and gatherings take place in Scotland each year. Each one has a mix of piping, athletic events and Highland dancing.

Whisky Month, across Scotland
Whole of May
May is Whisky Month, taking in a diverse range of events ranging from whisky tasting sessions to behind-the-scenes experiences and distillery tours.

Brighton Fringe Festival, Brighton, south-east, England
6 May – 5 June
Brighton Fringe is the largest arts festival in England and is set in a city with a unique heritage that has set a pace for diversity, creativity and innovative thinking. As an open-access festival – anyone can put on an event and be included in the brochure and website listings on payment of a fee – Brighton Fringe can include any art form, enabling the development of both new and established work to attract fresh audiences, press and promoters.

The Late Shows, Various locations across Newcastle Gateshead, north-east ENGLAND
13 – 14 May
The Late Shows is an inspiring, after-dark programme of events and exhibitions centring on the cultural venues in NewcastleGateshead that are usually closed in the evening. Museums, galleries and visitor attractions stay up late to encourage people to do something cultural with their evening – in celebration of the international event ‘Museums at Night’.

Tweed Love Bike Festival, Tweed Valley, Scottish Borders, Scotland
14 – 30 May
The UK's fastest growing cycling festival, held every year in the beautiful Tweed Valley.

Football Association Cup Final Wembley Stadium, London
21 May
The FA Cup, the oldest domestic Cup competition in the football world, is established as one of the country's great sporting institutions. It is now over 130 years old and yet, season by season, it generates tremendous interest not only in the country of its birth but all over the world. The history and tradition of the competition, and the pageantry of the Cup Final, is familiar to millions.

Birmingham Gay Pride, Birmingham, central England
28 – 29 May
The second largest city in England hosts its annual gay pride, a technicolour spectacular celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender culture.

Hay Festival of Literature and Arts, Brecon Beacons, south Wales
26 May – 5 June
The renowned Hay Festival of Literature and Arts, held annually in a tented village on the edge of the beautiful Brecon Beacons National Park, south Wales, brings together some of the greatest contemporary practitioners and the most exciting new voices in literature and arts.

Cheese rolling at Coopers Hill, Gloucestershire, south-west, England *QUIRKY!*
30 May
A passion for cheese is a must for this annual event, which involves daredevils hurling themselves down the steep, grassy slopes of Coopers Hill, near Gloucester, in pursuit of Double Gloucester cheeses. There are downhill races throughout the afternoon including ones for men and for women. The race starts with the master of ceremonies rolling a 7- 8 lb (4kg) Double Gloucester cheese down the hill. Dozens of competitors run, roll and somersault down the hill after it.

JUNE
Glasgow West End Festival, Glasgow, Scotland

June – date TBC
The West End Festival is Glasgow’s most extensive and vibrant cultural summer celebration. The Festival includes hundreds of events from the worlds of music, theatre, dance and also features gala days and guided walks.

J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race, Isle of Wight, south England
June – Date TBC
An annual one-day yacht race around the Isle of Wight, an island situated off the south coast of England. The race regularly attracts over 1,700 boats and around 16,000 sailors, making it one of the largest yacht races in the world. Competitors come from all over the world and follow the 50 nautical mile course round the Isle of Wight.

Taste of London Festival, London
June – Date TBC
Regent's Park will transform into a foodie wonderland for four days of summer eating, drinking and entertainment. Around 40 of the city's best restaurants dish up their finest dishes for the ultimate alfresco feast, while 200 producers provided a bounty of the best food and beverages from Britain and around the world.

Edinburgh International Magic Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland
June - TBC
Edinburgh International Magic Festival is one of the fastest-growing festivals in Edinburgh and the only event of its kind in Britain, giving an audience the opportunity to enjoy a breathtaking spectacle of the finest acts in magic.

Investec Derby, Epsom Downs Race Course, Surrey, south-east England
4 June
The world’s most famous flat race will be under starter’s orders for the 236th time, with riders and owners in pursuit of a purse of £1.25million, one of the richest prizes in UK racing.

Man vs. Horse Race, Powys, Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales *QUIRKY!*
11 – 13 June
Starting from the square in Llanwrtyd Wells, Powys (the smallest town in Britain), the race is run over 22 miles of mixed and very hilly terrain. Up to 500 entrants compete each year. The Man vs Horse Race was the brainchild of local man, Gordon Green, at the time when he was landlord of Neuadd Arms, after a discussion over a pint about the relative merits of man and horse. It took 25 years before a man finally beat a horse, when in 2004 Huw Lobb won in two hours and five minutes, finishing two minutes before the fastest horse.

Royal Ascot, Ascot, Berkshire, south-east England
14 – 18 June
For almost 250 years, Royal Ascot has established itself as a national institution and the centrepiece of the British social calendar, as well as being the ultimate stage for the best racehorses in the world. Tradition, pageantry, fashion and style all mix together as well as £4.5 million in prize money on offer and a total of 18 ‘Group’ races over the five days.

London Wonderground, Southbank Centre, London
15 June – 25 September
The splendid Spiegeltent returns, bringing to Southbank Centre a dazzling mix of the world's finest cabaret, circus and kids' shows. Full programme to be announced next year.

St Magnus Festival, Orkney, Scotland
17 – 26 June
This prestigious festival is renowned for its unique blend of world-class performance and community participation against the stunning backdrop of Orkney in midsummer.

Glastonbury Festival, Pilton Somerset, west England
22 – 26 June
Glastonbury Festival is one of the world’s biggest and best music festivals. The list of performers who have rocked the venue’s muddy fields include Dylan, Bowie, Paul Simon, Leonard Cohen, Neil Young, Oasis, Blur, U2, Orbital, Björk, Radiohead and Coldplay. More than 175,000 revellers descend on 900 acres of farmland; the promoters are never afraid to mix it up.

The Royal Highland Show, Edinburgh, Scotland
23 – 26 June
The highlight of the Scottish country calendar.

Pride in London
25 June
England’s capital hosts one hell of a party in the summer; Pride in London is one of Europe’s largest non-ticketed events. The festival usually comes to a close with a sizzling carnival of colour of music, floats and dancing, drawing a huge crowd of spectators.

World Egg Throwing Championships, Swaton, central England *QUIRKY!*
26 June
Contestants have to construct a gravity-powered egg-hurling device to launch an egg to a waiting team member. Distances to be achieved start at 30 metres but can be extended up to 150 in the knock-out competition. Another activity that takes place on the day is the Russian Egg Roulette where two participants select from five hard boiled eggs and one raw egg; they have to smash them onto their own foreheads.

Wimbledon Tennis Championships, London
27 June – 10 July
Arguably the most famous tennis tournament in the world, the Wimbledon Championships have been played since 1877. Starting at the end of June and lasting approximately two weeks, or until all events are complete, tickets for Wimbledon are always in fierce demand. The club therefore operates a public ballot (lottery) for advanced sales of Centre, No. 1 and No. 2 court tickets. The All England Club has also appointed two official tour operators who provide overseas tours and corporate hospitality packages.

Henley Royal Regatta, Henley-on-Thames, central England
29 June – 3 July
The picturesque market town of Henley-on-Thames will be transformed into a cosmopolitan hub of rowing when the Henley Royal Regatta comes to town. This five-day festival, which attracts international rowing crews, is one of the highlights of the British summer social calendar and offers up to 90 world-class races. The races are head-to-head knock-out competitions, raced over a course of one mile 550 yards (2,112m) from Temple Island upstream towards Henley Bridge.

JULY
Upfest, Bristol, south-west England
July – Date TBC
Upfest, Europe’s biggest, free, street art and graffiti art festival, is now a firmly established annual event in the Bristol calendar attracting more than 250 cutting-edge graffiti artists from all over the world. The artists descend on Bristol to paint visual spectacles at venues throughout Southville and Bedminster with 30,000 square foot of artwork over the weekend. Artists paint to a soundtrack of live music at locations including the Tobacco Factory, The Hen and Chicken and Climbing Centre. Upfest is a family-friendly festival – kids can take part in graffiti workshops, draw on a ‘giant doodle wall’ and lots more art-related activities.

Wakestock Music Festival, Cardigan Bay, north Wales
July TBC
Europe’s largest wakeboarding music festival, which attracts big name acts and thousands of festival goers, returns to picturesque Cardigan Bay in north Wales. There’s wakeboarding to watch by day and an array of top bands and DJs by night.

Cardigan Bay Seafood Festival, Cardigan Bay, north Wales
3 July
A well-established seafood festival in picturesque Cardigan Bay. Previous participants have included Michelin chefs Hywel Jones of Lucknam Park and Roger Jones of the Little Bedwyn.

Pride, Bristol, south-west England
3 – 12 July
Bristol Pride is a week-long LGBT festival that culminates in a massive outdoor music and arts festival which takes place in Castle Park. Kicking off with the Pride Parade through the city the festival features entertainment, a family area, funfair, market stalls, food stalls, bars and a Community Area hosting more than 60 organisations ranging from health services, charities and sports groups.

Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, Surrey, south-east ENGLAND
5 – 10 July
The world’s largest annual flower show returns in 2016. Last year was the show’s 25th anniversary and was market with a celebratory maze and VertiGarden Celebration Cake.

International Eisteddfod, Llangollen, north-east Wales
5 – 10 July
Every year more than 4,000 singers from across the globe descend on the small town of Llangollen in north-east Wales – just 50km from Liverpool – to compete in 25 different competitions celebrating song, music and dance, closing with the prestigious ‘Choir of the World’ where winning choirs compete for the Pavarotti Trophy.

Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open, Castle Stuart, Inverness, Scotland
7 – 10 July
Watch some of the world’s leading golfers at their very best as the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open. World number one Luke Donald will be back to defend his title and also playing before the Highland crowds is three-times Masters’ champion Phil Mickelson and three-times major champion Padraig Harrington. Castle Stuart Golf Links opened to worldwide acclaim in 2009 and is regarded as a modern links classic.

Formula 1 British Grand Prix, Silverstone, central England
8 – 10 July
The jewel in the crown of British Motorsports, Silverstone is a fast circuit with a series of complex high-speed turns, and a short straight to add to the excitement – average cornering speeds are higher than at any other championship racetrack.

World Pea Shooting Championships, Cambridgeshire, east England *QUIRKY!*
9 July
Tension rises as the World Pea Shooting Festival in Witcham grows closer. The competition started as a means of fundraising for the village but has progressed to receive international recognition with contenders coming from as far afield as the USA. Skill will shoot one expert marksman (or woman) into the slot of World Champion, while the runners up can commiserate at the village fete that accompanies the festivities.

Edinburgh International Jazz and Blues Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland
15 – 24 July
See jazz stars established and soon-to-be at the annual jazz and blues fest in Scotland’s festival city.

World Snail Racing Championship, Norfolk, east England *QUIRKY!*
16 July
Ready, Steady, Slow! For more than 25 years, the World Snail Racing Championships have been held at Congham, near King's Lynn, in Norfolk. More than 300 snails slug it out for the title of ‘Fastest Snail in the World’ at the World Snail Racing Championships. Anyone with a snail can enter and a number of heats are held before the grand final. The winner receives a silver tankard stuffed with lettuce. The world record is held by a snail called Archie who completed the 13-inch course (set up on top of a table) in two minutes.

Happy Days – Beckett Festival, Enniskillen, Northern Ireland
July – Date TBC
The first annual multi-arts festival to celebrate the work and influence of writer and Nobel Prize winner Samuel Beckett, events range from concerts to visual art, theatre to poetry.

Cardiff International Food and Drink Festival, Cardiff, Wales
July – Date TBC
Every year the Welsh capital welcomes this popular festival, which takes over Cardiff Bay, giving way to hundreds of stalls offering delicious food and drink to try and buy from all over the world and Wales. Highlights include Welsh cheeses, Norwegian smoked salmon, French wines and Persian snack foods.

Buckingham Palace Summer Opening, London
July – Date TBC
Explore lavishly furnished State Rooms – where the Queen and members of the Royal Family receive and entertain guests on State, ceremonial and official occasions – and witness some of the greatest treasures from the Royal Collection. The Palace’s 19 State Rooms are furnished with many of the greatest treasures from the Royal Collection.

The Welsh Proms, Cardiff, Wales
July – Date TBC
The Welsh Proms features the world's top orchestras, soloists and conductors. There’s a strong classical programme but also jazz, soul, rock dance and world music.

SummerTyne Americana Festival, Sage Gateshead, Newcastle, north-east England
July – TBC
SummerTyne Americana Festival is an immensely popular weekend event that attracts visitors from across the world for a sizzling celebration of Americana music in and around the spectacular setting of Sage Gateshead, on the south bank of the river Tyne.

AUGUST
The International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival, Harrogate, north England

3 – 21 August
The elegant spa town of Harrogate in Yorkshire hosts the biggest Gilbert & Sullivan event in the world, attracting around 45,000 visitors every year. In addition to the main programme there will be a full daily fringe programme of recitals, talks and concerts plus amateur shows and a concert every evening after the main show in the Festival Club.

Cowes Week, Isle of Wight, south-east England
6 – 13 August
As one of the sailing calendar’s biggest events, the Cowes Week brings together the world’s biggest sailing stars and more than 1,000 yachts and 8,000 competitors taking part in some top-class sailing.

Royal Military Tattoo, Edinburgh, Scotland
5 – 27 August
Military extravaganza with breathtaking displays.

Edinburgh International Festival and other festivals, Edinburgh, Scotland
EIF and Fringe (5 – 29 August); Book festival (13 – 29 August); Art festival (28 July – 28 August); Edinburgh Mela (27 – 28 August)
Edinburgh has been presenting performances of classical music, opera, theatre, dance and the visual arts from around the world each August since 1947. Since then, a host of other festivals – of which the best known is the Edinburgh Festival Fringe – have sprung up in the city, many of them also running through much of August and into September. Indulge in all things cultural; from experimental and street theatre, comedy and art to festivals on books, television and politics.

Race the Train, Tywyn, mid-Wales *QUIRKY!*
20 August
Race the Train event is a popular contest between man and machine. The race takes place alongside, as far as practicable, the route taken by the Talyllyn Railway on its journey to Abergynolwyn and back. In order to do this, all courses use a mixture of public roads, lanes, unmetalled roads, tracks, agricultural land and rough grazing pastures. The terrain varies all the time and can be very wet and muddy in places, the routes also involve some steep hills. Often the train, or for many runners the track, is just over the fence and in many places if you coincide with the train any family or friends on the train will be able to shout encouragement.

Worthing International Birdman, Worthing, south-west England *QUIRKY!*
20 – 21 August
The Birdman is a flight competition for human-powered flying machines held each summer in the picturesque seaside resort of Worthing on England’s south coast. Many flyers take part to raise money for charities; others design complex machines to aim for the distance prizes. A substantial prize of £30,000 is offered for the furthest flight in excess of the challenge distance of 100 metres. The event attracts contestants from all over the world. The Birdman competition started in 1971 along the coast in Selsey and then spent 29 years in Bognor Regis before relocating to Worthing in 2008.

World Bog Snorkelling Championships, Powys, mid-Wales *QUIRKY!*
28 August
Waen Rhydd peat bog on the outskirts of the smallest town in Britain, Llanwrtyd Wells, is home to this now-world-famous event. The aim of the championships is to swim two lengths (about 115 metres) of a peaty, murky trench, which has been dug out of the Waen Rhydd peat bog, in the quickest time possible. Competitors come from as far afield as Australia, the USA and Europe as well as from Britain for the pleasure of taking part. The snorkeller with the fastest time wins a small cash prize. Organised by Green Events, the novel event was originally thought up by a local pub landlord Gordon Green in 1986 in a bid to boost tourism to the area.

Notting Hill Carnival, London
27 – 28 August
London’s famous free Caribbean festival and the largest street party in Europe will be celebrating 50 years in 2016. The Carnival sets the streets on fire great music, outrageous floats and fabulous costumes. Hear everything from traditional steel bands, Soca and Calypso to the latest dub, drum ‘n’ bass, R&B and reggae blasting out from pumping static sound systems and moving floats. Live stages also feature local bands, top international artists and sounds from around the world and there are hundreds of Caribbean food stalls.

Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House, London
August – Date TBC
Each summer, The Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court hosts London's most beautiful open-air cinema; Film4 Summer Screen. A highlight of the city’s summer calendar, the series features a range of films, all showing on a state-of-the-art screen with full surround sound.

Piping Live! Glasgow, Scotland
August – Dates TBC
Celebrating 50 years in 2016, Piping Live! will be bringing 40,000 visitors and hundreds of pipe bands and soloists to Glasgow, the two events showcase the best piping from around the world. Make sure you are part of a week-long piping event that makes Glasgow the centre of the world stage for piping brilliance. It’s exciting and challenging, traditional and contemporary and very much alive.

The Garlic Festival, Isle of Wight, south-east England *QUIRKY!*
August – Date TBC
Garlic ice cream, jelly beans, fudge and beer are just some of the unusual garlic-based produce that can be sampled at the Isle of Wight Garlic Festival in Newchurch. The Garlic Marquee features the Isle of Wight’s ‘Golden Clove’ including the popular oak-smoked variety. The festival attracts 25,000 people and is a two-day event featuring live music and children’s entertainers as well as garlic.

The World Pipe Band Championships, Glasgow, Scotland
August – Date TBC
The ultimate pipe band championships.

World Hen-Racing Championships, Derbyshire, central England *QUIRKY!*
August – Date TBC
The World Hen Racing Championships have brought an entire new meaning to "Chicken Run" – not to mention some egg-stra egg-citement to the Peak District. Visitors to the Barley Mow pub in the village of Bonsall each August are able to catch sight of chickens racing along a 30-foot track, under strict world championship regulations.

EAT! NewcastleGateshead, NewcastleGateshead, north-east England
August – Date TBC
NewcastleGateshead Initiative’s acclaimed food festival, EAT! NewcastleGateshead, champions local food producers, restaurants and culinary talent in NewcastleGateshead and north-east England. Its eclectic and imaginative events programme helps people to see food in a brand new way; tasty favourites including The Big EAT! Weekend will be served up once again.

Glasgow Mela, Glasgow, Scotland
Summer Dates TBC
Scotland’s biggest multi-cultural festival lights up Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Park every summer in a kaleidoscope of colours and taste from around the globe with a world of music, dance and performance.

Merchant City Festival, Glasgow, Scotland
Summer Dates TBC
Glasgow’s cultural quarter comes to life with its annual celebration of live music, street performances, art, dance, theatre, comedy, food and drink.

SEPTEMBER
British Science Festival, Bradford, north England

6 – 9 September
The British Science Festival is organised each year by the British Science Association to bring together hundreds of the UK’s top scientists, journalists and tens of thousands of members of the public. The Festival lasts over six days and events range from lectures and debates for adults, to hands-on activity for schools and families, to comedy, theatre and expeditions.

Heritage Open Days, across England
8 – 11 September
Heritage Open Days celebrates England’s fantastic architecture and culture by offering free access to places that are usually closed to the public or normally charge for admission. Every year on four days in September, buildings of every age, style and function throw open their doors. It is a once-a-year chance to discover architectural treasures and enjoy a wide range of tours, events and activities that bring local history and culture to life.

Great North Run Weekend – including Junior and Mini Great North Run and Great North Street Games, NewcastleGateshead, north-east England
11 September
A series of professional and junior athletics activities on the Saturday of the Great North Run weekend has been developed over the last few years, using NewcastleGateshead Quaysides as a 'virtual arena'.

Roald Dahl Day, Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, south-east, England
13 September
The official Roald Dahl Day takes place every year on 13 September, on the birthday of ‘the World's No. 1 Storyteller’. A number of activities and events take place at the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, who are gearing up for a year of events to celebrate the writer’s centenary in 2016.

World Stone Skimming Championships, Argyll, Scotland *QUIRKY!*
25 September
Each competitor is allowed three skims using specially selected Easdale slate skimming stones. For a skim to qualify the stone must bounce at least three times; it is then judged on the distance achieved before it sinks. The World Stone Skimming Championships were launched in 1983 by Albert Baker, and then lay fallow until they were resurrected in 1997 by the Eilean Eisdeal (Easdale Island Trust) as a fundraising event. Contestants hail from around the world and the championships now attract over 200 participants and many spectators.

Goodwood Revival, Chichester, West Sussex, south-east England
September – Dates TBC
Each September the famous historic Goodwood Motor Circuit recreates the golden era of its glorious heyday, bringing together the most historically significant, priceless machines, along with legendary drivers from past and present. Vintage fashion is at the heart of the Revival with many visitors going to great lengths to dress in period style. Live music, from big band to jazz, and boogie-woogie to rock ‘n’ roll, all play a part in adding to the unique nostalgic atmosphere of the Goodwood Revival.

Egremont Crab Fair, Cumbria, ENGLAND *QUIRKY!*
September – Date TBC
Contestants put their heads through a horse collar and have a set time in which to contort their faces in the scariest, most grotesque, silliest expression possible – also called gurning. False teeth may be left in, taken out or turned upside down if desired. The person who gets the most applause for their ugly face wins! The Egremont Crab Fair dates back to 1267 to celebrate the time when the local Lord of the Manor wheeled a cart of crab apples through the village of Egremont as a goodwill gesture to the poor. Crab apples have a sharp taste and it is said the gurning competition originates from the faces the locals made when they bit into the sharp apples.

The Braemar Gathering, Aberdeenshire, north Scotland
September – Date TBC
Enjoy the skills of the pipers and Highland dancers and the stamina of the hill runners as well as the international athletes taking part in the heavy events. Sample contemporary Scotland with live music, top-quality arts and crafts and the best local food and drink at one of The Queen’s favourite annual events.

Abergavenny Food Festival, Abergavenny, west Wales
September – Date TBC
The annual festival returns to celebrate the exquisite produce of some 200 food exhibitors as well as featuring master-classes from top-flight chefs, tutored tastings and food talks with food writers and critics.

Blenheim Palace Literary Festival, Oxfordshire, south-central England
September – Dates TBC
Leading writers from the fields of politics, history, food and drink, architecture and design, music, literature and society assemble at the annual literary festival at historic Blenheim Palace, famously where Winston Churchill was born.

Wigtown Book Festival, Scotland
September – Date TBC
A ten-day celebration in Scotland’s National Book Town.

The Porthcawl Elvis Festival, Porthcawl, south Wales *QUIRKY!*
September – Date TBC
Every September thousands of Elvis fans descend on the south Wales seaside town of Porthcawl for a unique celebration of The King. One of the largest Elvis events in Europe, it includes a leading show for Elvis tribute artists as well as more than 100 shows and more than 20 venues around the town of Porthcawl host its Fringe Festival.

Dundee Food and Flower Show, Dundee, Scotland
September – Date TBC
The Dundee Flower and Food Festival is the premier show of its kind in Scotland, and has developed over the years into a three-day extravaganza with a host of attractions. It is also one of Dundee’s major annual events. With over two acres of marquees set in the magnificent grounds of Camperdown Country Park, the event has developed over the years to become a high profile, popular and very successful three-day lifestyle event.

OCTOBER
World Conker Championships, Northamptonshire, central England *QUIRKY!*

October – Date TBC
The game of conkers has been a popular pastime of British schoolchildren for decades. The rules are simple. Each player is given a conker attached to a piece of string and takes turns in trying to break their opponent’s nut using a swinging motion. The World Conker Championships are held on the village green in Ashton, Peterborough and attract over 300 competitors attempting to become the King or Queen of conkers.

Swansea Festival of Music and Arts, Swansea, Wales
October – Date TBC
The programme has, in the past, included performances from Welsh National Opera, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and the Russian State Philharmonic Orchestra plus a range of arts at venues across the City.

Creative Mackintosh, across Glasgow, Scotland
October – Date TBC
The Creative Mackintosh Festival celebrates Charles Rennie Mackintosh, his architecture, design, arts and crafts in Glasgow. The events programme showcases the Mackintosh buildings and legacy, as well as focusing on Glasgow and its creativity, through the work of contemporary artists, responding to the Mackintosh legacy and themes that fascinated the artist himself.

Dylan Thomas Festival, Swansea, south Wales
October – Date TBC
The south Wales city of Swansea, 40 miles from Cardiff, is the birthplace of arguably Wales’ greatest poets, Dylan Thomas. Each year the city hosts its annual Dylan Thomas Festival, where budding writers and artists from Wales and beyond are given the opportunity to showcase their talent.

Golden Spurtle, Inverness, Scotland *QUIRKY!*
October – Date TBC
The annual World Porridge Making Championship is followed with interest by connoisseurs of Scotland's national dish across the world. Each competitor is required to produce at least one pint (200ml) of porridge that is to be divided into three portions for the judges to taste. The championship title is awarded to the competitor producing the best traditional porridge, made from oatmeal (pinhead, coarse, medium or fine). The event includes a pipe band, cookery demonstrations and product tastings.

NOVEMBER
St Andrew’s Day, across Scotland

30 November
Events celebrating the patron saint of Scotland, St Andrew, take place throughout the country, and in the past have included some of Scotland’s historic attractions offering free entry for the day.

London Jazz Festival, Southbank Centre, London
November – Date TBC
London Jazz Festival hosts world-class artists and emerging stars, packed into back-to-back concerts, workshops, talks, masterclasses and free events across London. A number of key events will take place at Southbank Centre, following in the footsteps of Herbie Hancock, Esperanza Spalding, Kurt Elling and Mara Carlyle who have all performed during previous London Jazz Festivals.

Skate at Somerset House, London
November – Date TBC
Skate at Somerset House offers a complete festive experience in the capital. During the day, visitors can skate in the beautiful splendour of Somerset House’s neoclassical courtyard and, after dark, the rink hosts some of the best international clubs and festivals at exclusive Club Nights. For those looking to relax after taking to the ice, the Skate Lounge offers delicious rink-side refreshments.

World’s Biggest Liar, Lake District, Cumbria, north-west England *QUIRKY!*
November – Date TBC
The annual contest is held at The Bridge Inn pub in Santon Bridge, a hamlet of the Lake District. The competition is held in honour of 19th-century Bridge Inn landlord Will Ritson, who was famous for his incredible stories. Competitors are given five minutes to impress the judges with an outrageous but convincing lie; previous years’ winners of the title of World's Biggest Liar have included nuclear plant worker Glen Boyland, who won after telling an unlikely story about racing snails with Prince Charles. Politicians and lawyers are reputedly barred from entering, as they are considered to "have an unfair advantage".

DECEMBER
Christmas at Kew, London

December – Date TBC
Learn to ice-skate against the picturesque background of Kew Gardens, which, each year, delivers a real festive atmosphere.

Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park, London
December – DateTBC
A true family favourite, Winter Wonderland returns to London's Hyde Park with big top shows, the observation wheel and a huge Christmas market. As well as the stunning ice rink, Winter Wonderland includes gentle rides for younger children.

The Great Christmas Pudding Race – London & Brighton, England QUIRKY!*
December – DateTBC
One of the wackiest races you’ll ever see; the Pudding Race will raise money for the Martlets Hospice and Cancer Research UK. Teams from schools or companies – with competitors aged from 14 to 70 – race around a 150-metre course balancing a Christmas pudding on a flimsy paper plate. They have to navigate two slippery inflatables, balloons filled with flour, jets of foam and limbo poles. To complicate things even further, they do it all in fancy dress.

Newcastle Gateshead Winter Festival: Enchanted Parks, Newcastle Gateshead, north-east England
December – Date TBC
The award-winning Enchanted Parks transforms Saltwell Park in Gateshead after dark with innovative and atmospheric creations using visual art installations, light, sound and performance on a large and small scale.

Newcastle Gateshead Winter Festival: NYE Winter Carnival, Newcastle Gateshead, north-east England
31 December
The annual New Year’s Eve Winter Carnival sees the Newcastle Ice Queen and her entourage of local community participants parading through the streets of Newcastle, culminating in an early evening fireworks display.

Hogmanay, Scotland
31 December
Hogmanay is what the Scots call New Year's Eve and the arrival of the new year is always celebrated in style across the country. Fireworks, open-air concerts and street parties make Hogmanay Scotland’s biggest party of the year.

The Flambeaux, Comrie, Scotland
31 December
Ancient torchlight procession signifying the New Year.

Stonehaven Fireball Festival, SCOTLAND
31 December
Fire festival to welcome the New Year.

Explore The Outdoors

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WALKING AND HIKING
There's nothing quite like the great British outdoors; rolling hills, lush fields, jagged coastlines and spectacular views. And there's no better way to experience it than on foot. Whether you're a seasoned hiker or just want to work off a large lunch we’ll find a walk for you.

If it’s a long distance country walk you’re after, look out for National Trails. There are 15 Trails in England and Wales, covering about 2,500 miles of some of Britain’s finest landscapes and taking in some great historical sites – including Hadrian’s Wall – along the way. In Scotland, there are four officially designated Long Distance Routes, plus 16 routes in Scotland’s Great Trails, covering over 1,300 miles of breathtaking landscape from the Borders to the Highlands.

Britain’s cities aren’t short of scenic walking routes either. Get Walking has plenty of shorter routes to help you discover some of the hidden gems of cities including London, Manchester, Birmingham and Swindon.

There’s a walk to suit every season in Britain. The Isle of Wight Walking Festival is the UK’s largest walking festival, and the best way to enjoy the island’s mild spring weather. Celebrate the summer with a mix of mountain walking and great entertainment at the Mourne International Walking Festival in Northern Ireland. The annual National Trust Walking Festival is perfect for autumn family walks, and if you’d rather see Britain at its wintry best, join in one of the hundreds of walks that make up the Festival of Winter Walks.

BRITAIN'S MOST SPECTACULAR GARDENS
It’s the centenary of the Chelsea Flower Show this year, but if you don’t manage to get tickets you can still experience a year full of fabulous flora in Britain’s most magnificent gardens. See historic landscape gardens full of fairy-tale follies, soothing Georgian water gardens and...

Studley Royal, Yorkshire, England
Prepare yourself for Georgian elegance at its finest. The water gardens of Studley Royal are full of tranquil water features, neo-classical statues and sweeping landscaped lawns that tie everything together. You’ll find follies tucked away within the thick foliage as though you’ve been transported into a magical place, full of mysterious structures. Explore at your leisure and enjoy the views of the surrounding Yorkshire countryside. You’ll find a medieval deer park here too, and if you keep exploring, you’ll discover the ruins of 12th-century Fountain’s Abbey at the valley bottom.

National Botanic Garden of Wales, Llanarthne, Wales
Unwind among the natural beauty of the National Botanic Garden of Wales. It’s full of things to see and do, from Wales’ rarest tree to an atmospheric sculpture garden and the enormous dome of the Great Glasshouse. Kids will love looking for little creatures in the dipping ponds and running wild in the adventure zone, while the range of themed gardens — particularly the spectacular Ghost Forest — ensures there’s always something new to see.

Kew Gardens, London, England
London’s Kew Gardens was established back in 1759, and today it’s one of the city’s most popular attractions and a World Heritage Site. From its grand Victorian glasshouses to its dazzling array of trees, plants and flowers from all across the world, it’s a real feast for the senses. Learn all about different plants and their uses in medicine, admire its collection of 40 listed buildings, and wander freely among trees and plants of all colours and kinds. The Japanese Garden, arboretum and treetop walkway are just a few of the highlights.

Stowe Landscape Gardens, Bucks, England
One of garden designer Capability Brown’s greatest works, Stowe Landscape Garden has a magical air to it. Full of water features, beautifully landscaped curves and long avenues, it’s brought to life by a collection of grand follies. Temples and monuments rise up out of wooded areas, or stand in isolation in grassy spaces, and give a mysterious atmosphere to a beautiful garden – in fact, they’re meant to tell a story about man’s path through life, but you’ll need to visit to discover more.

Eden Project, Cornwall, England
If you feel like a trip to a rainforest, you only need to go as far as Cornwall. Stroll past waterfalls and gigantic plants as you explore the Eden Project’s tropical jungle, which grows beneath huge geodesic domes among the rolling Cornish hills. See olive groves and lemon trees in the Mediterranean biome, then explore the outdoor gardens to see gorgeous native blooms, and learn all about the uses of plants. The Eden Project also hosts music and comedy events, so if you fancy an evening out among the flowers, this is the place to go.

Drumlanrig Castle Gardens, Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland
Discover 40 acres of gorgeous gardens in the grounds of one of Scotland’s most magnificent castles. Drumlanrig Castle Gardens bring together woodland walks, a grand Victorian glasshouse and formal gardens which date back to the 17th century. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for Kingfishers, red squirrels, and Great Spotted Woodpeckers as you explore.

Family

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BRITAIN'S BEST FAMILY ATTRACTIONS
From knights’ quests to tree-top adventures, high-speed rollercoasters to gruesome tales at the Tower of London: have a fun day out at one of Britain’s best family attractions. Choose between culture, heritage, or straight-up fun!

Alton Towers, Staffordshire, England
One of Britain’s best known theme parks, Alton Towers is home to a fantastic selection of death-defying rides. Venture into the dark forest of Thirteen, or whoosh along head-first on Air. Don’t worry if you prefer gentler fun, as there are plenty of slower rides too, not to mention a water park and even a spa for the adults. Be sure to explore Alton Towers itself, the partially ruined stately home that gives the park its name.

The Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI), Manchester, England
Huge machines, steam-power, and science in action: the Museum of Science and Industry gives the inside story on how machinery has developed over the years. Learn about flight and space travel, the earliest telephone systems, the Industrial Revolution and the growth of Manchester as an industrial centre.

Alnwick Castle, Northumberland, England
Alnwick Castle combines a stunning medieval castle with exciting activities for families, and it’s also rather famous among Harry Potter fans. Alnwick played the role of Hogwarts in the films, and you can learn all about its Hollywood career on the Battleaxe to Broomsticks Tour. You’ll also learn all about medieval life and try crafts on Knights Quest. And if all that’s given you an appetite, enjoy a picnic in the castle gardens.

Riverside Museum, Glasgow, Scotland
Experience the past brought to life at the Riverside Museum, Glasgow’s museum of transport. Walk along a recreated 19th-century street, step inside shops and learn all about transport through the ages as you come face to face with the vehicles that changed city life. Historic trams, carriages, and cars are just some of the gleaming exhibits on display here.

Whipsnade Zoo, Bedfordshire, England
Cheetahs, lions, tigers, giraffes: Whipsnade Zoo has a very exotic list of residents, and it’s a long list, because this is the UK’s biggest zoo. They have room here for some of nature’s most sizeable specimens, including elephants and rhinos, so it’s an excellent choice if you want to meet a lot of different creatures. Learn about conservation, watch the animals being fed, and get to know more about their habits in fun Q&A sessions.

Tower of London, England
Step inside London’s forbidding fortress, seat of power through some of the most turbulent centuries of British history. Many famous figures have been held within these walls, including some of Henry VIII’s unfortunate wives. Hear about the princes in the tower, meet the ravens that live here, and see the highest prize of all, the fabulous Crown Jewels.

Dr Who Experience, Cardiff, Wales
Cybermen, daleks, and the mysterious two-brained Ood: come face to face with your favourite Doctor Who characters as you leap through time at the Dr Who Experience. Embark on an interactive adventure, fly the Tardis and see some fantastic special effects before you see behind the scenes of one of Britain’s classic TV characters.

CASTLES FOR KIDS
Castles are alive with the stories of the past and the events, exhibitions and activities of today. So whether you fancy a majestic fortress, grim prison or luxurious mansion you'll find a great family day out at one of Britain's castles...

Framlingham Castle, Suffolk
Framlingham in Suffolk is an impressive example of a 12th century medieval castle which has maintained its original character over the centuries. And now the spiral staircases and 13m curtain walls, the dry moat and ornate Tudor chimneys make for a great family day out. There are a number of events which take place throughout the year at Framlingham including Knight School where your children can learn the skills of a medieval warrior and attend sword-fighting lessons to fight in a mock battle!

Bateman's, East Sussex
If you’re a fan of the timeless children’s classic The Jungle Book, then a trip to Bateman’s in East Sussex will be a treat for the whole family. This beautiful Jacobean house was home to Rudyard Kipling from 1902 – 1936 and is still home to the author’s oriental artefacts and the original illustrations of the Jungle Book. Events surrounding these novels and annual festivals take place in the beautiful garden which boasts a river and working water mill. Such days out include Family Fun days, Kipling literary days, Paint the garden, Easter Egg trails, Jungle Hunt trails and Hallowe'en trails.

Dunnottar Castle, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
With spectacular coastal views over Abersdeenshire, Scotland, Dunnottar Castle stands on the edge of a sheer-sided rock, 50m above the sea. It’s famous for holding out against Cromwell’s army for eight months and saving the Scottish Crown jewels for Charles II. William Wallace and Mary Queen of Scots were other famous residents in this fortification. In total, eleven buildings remain which include the 13th century chapel and 17th century ballroom. For excellent views, historical events and a great place for a family picnic, this Scottish jewel is worth a visit.

St Mawes Castle, Cornwall
A wonderful example of a Tudor castle can be seen in St Mawes Castle in Cornwall. All visitors enter the fort via a small bridge into the central tower and there’s lots of room inside for children to explore and run around. Make sure you don’t miss the cannons and the unique decorative carvings within this clover-leaf shaped fort. Nearby is the sister castle, Pendennis Castle and family events take place both here and in St Mawes. The Grand Medieval Joust will transport you back in time and there is even an opportunity to see Henry VIII and experience Tudor times.

Osborne House, Isle of Wight
Osborne House is Queen Victoria’s palace by the sea. After her first visit to the house on the Isle of Wight, England’s longest-reigning monarch wrote: ‘It is impossible to imagine a prettier spot’. In the mid 19th century, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert bought Osbourne House and rebuilt it as an 800-hectare estate and family bolthole. The Swiss Cottage is a favourite with children with its child-size furniture and the play area is the ideal place to let off steam. There are acres of parkland and gardens to explore and relax in, which you can enjoy on foot or in a horse-drawn carriage. And a restaurant and café are on hand for family refreshments.

Sudeley Castle, Gloucestershire
Steeped in royal history, Sudeley Castle was once the home of Katherine Parr (Henry VIII’s last wife), and was also visited or lived in by Anne Boleyn, Lady Jane Grey and Elizabeth I. However, after lying empty for 200 years it was restored by the Dent and Brocklehurst families. It now has a busy calendar of events from Meet the Tudors to the House of Fairy Tales and families can appreciate the grounds and the exhibitions it boasts. Such exhibitions include the Emma Dent Collection and her correspondence with Florence Nightingale.

Carreg Cennen Castle, Carmarthenshire in Wales
Appearing suddenly from behind hedgerows of the winding country roads, Carreg Cennen Castle, Wales entices you to make a speedy advance. Perched high above the Welsh countryside, it commands great views of the Black Mountain. This 13th century castle, which was involved in the War of the Roses, has a unique atmosphere and is fun for families to explore. To the south east corner of the castle, a steep stairway leads into the bowels of the castle, and into a damp and narrow limestone cave. Be sure to take a torch as you will soon be plunged into complete darkness as it takes you right under the castle.

Hurst Castle, Hampshire
With 360 degree views of the Solent and the Isle of Wight, Hurst Castle stands at the end of Hurst Point in Hampshire, over a mile out into the English Channel along a shingle walk. Built by Henry VIII in 1544, Hurst Castle has had a varied history; Charles I was held prisoner here before being executed in London and it was subsequently used in the Napoleonic wars and during the two World Wars. The castle has a 12-sided Tudor Keep housing a narrow staircase and many small nooks and crannies, ideal for a game of hide and seek with the children. There are also exhibits on display and a working lighthouse right next door, so there is something for every member of your family.

Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh
The Palace of Holyroodhouse is the Queen’s official residence in Scotland and is situated at the opposite end of the Royal Mile from Edinburgh Castle. In the 12th century, Holyroodhouse was founded as a monastery and the ruins of the abbey can still be seen today. However, it became a royal palace and was home to Mary Queen of Scots whose bedroom and belongings are still on view. Find out more about the historical importance of Holyroodhouse with the audio guides available on site, ideal for the whole family.

Castle Howard, North Yorkshire
Castle Howard is an enchanting 18th century palace, home of the Howard family situated in the Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The unique setting in 1,000 acres of parkland offers breathtaking views. Within the grounds you can relax in The Walled Rose Garden or have family fun feeding the peacocks, boating on the lake and enjoying the adventure playground. Castle Howard has several exhibitions running including Brideshead Revisited, The Women of Castle Howard and The Building of Castle Howard among others.

Food

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AFTERNOON TEA
Afternoon Tea is a light meal of delicately cut sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, cakes and pastries. It became popular in the 19th century and is now a favourite ritual of us Brits. But where to go?

For tea and luxury you won't find better than classic hotel venues like Brown's Hotel, Claridge’s, The Langham and The Ritz in London and The Balmoral in Edinburgh.

If you like tea with history, many British country houses and historic attractions will happily oblige. Visit The Pump Room at the Roman Baths in Bath for afternoon tea followed by a drop of famous Bath Spa water or take tea at Winston Churchill’s birthplace, Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire.

If you're in need of refreshment after a shopping trip, the Queen's grocer Fortnum and Mason in London is a lovely setting for tea and cakes as is the luxurious store, Harvey Nichols. Their fourth-floor restaurant overlooking Edinburgh's rooftops is a great place in which to enjoy delicately crafted cakes and moreish sandwiches.

For tea with a twist try Glasgow's 'magic teashop' Tchai-Ovna, a relaxed hangout with eclectic furnishings and dark, comfy corners serving 80 different teas or Liverpool's 'punk' Leaf tea bar. It serves tea by day and turns into a late-night club with DJ-sets and a cool crowd.

And don't be surprised if you're offered something a little stronger with your tea. What could be better than the finest handmade cakes and sandwiches washed down with a glass of Champagne? Delicious!

TOP TEN HISTORIC PUBS
From ancient ale houses to literary drinking dens, Britain has hundreds of historic pubs to explore. We've picked just 10 of the most interesting and architecturally important.

1. The Philharmonic Dining Rooms, Liverpool
Built in 1858, the Phil, as it’s affectionately known, is special from its gilded iron gates to the luxurious marble urinals in the gents’ toilets. Standing appropriately between Liverpool’s two towering cathedrals this temple to Victorian pub design also has mosaic floors and stained glass. John Lennon famously complained that the chief price of fame was ‘not being able to go for a drink in the Phil’.

2. Eagle and Child, Oxford
Drink in the Oxford atmosphere at this 17th-century pub once a favourite of J R R Tolkien, C S Lewis and later, Inspector Morse creator, Colin Dexter. Today you’ll find the Eagle and Child a simple pub with decent ales. Other historic pubs in Oxford include the The Bear and the Lamb and Flag.

3. Olde Cheshire Cheese, London
Of all the fascinating, historical and visit-worthy pubs in London we could list we’ve plumped for the 17th-century Olde Cheshire Cheese. Its cosy warren of dark rooms reeks of history and Mark Twain, Alfred Tennyson and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle were all regulars. The pub is famously referred to in A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. These days its snug rooms offer a perfect place for a restorative ale after a hard day’s sightseeing.

4. Olde Trip to Jerusalem, Nottingham
Favoured pitstop for crusading knights en route to the Holy Land, the Olde Trip to Jerusalem has stood beneath Nottingham Castle since 1189. It’s connected to the caves at the foot of the castle and still has an atmospheric cavern-like feel. The pub’s cellars used to be part of the castle gaol and an old cockfighting pit.

5. Crown Posada, Newcastle
The Crown Posada city centre pub is high on Victorian charm and Geordie spirit. Enjoy a Newcastle Brown Ale and admire the magnificent pre-Raphaelite stained-glass windows, gilt mirrors and coffered ceiling. An old gramophone in a wooden cabinet and a stack of LPs provide mellow background music when the pub is quiet.

6. Haunch of Venison, Salisbury
The Haunch of Venison has been around since the 14th century. Its two bars have several unique features including England’s last surviving complete pewter bar top and the ‘horsebox’ - a small bar reputedly used by Churchill and Eisenhower during the planning of the D-Day landings. The House of Lords bar proudly displays a severed, mummified hand said to be that of a cheating cards player.

7. The Eagle, Cambridge
Though busy with tourists and students The Eagle is worth a stop for its varied and romantic history. It’s where James Watson and Francis Crick drank during their ground-breaking research into DNA and the RAF bar has a ceiling with World War II graffiti daubed in lipstick, smoke and candle wax.

8. Britons Protection, Manchester
The Britons Protection is stuffed with Victorian decorative detail and is famous for its bewildering selection of whiskies. Open fires, solid wooden furniture and etched glass all lend a pleasing, old-fashioned feel. Wall tiles depict the infamous Peterloo Massacre of 1819 when government troops killed 15 people who were among a crowd demonstrating for parliamentary reform. The incident took place not far from the pub.

9. Café Royal, Edinburgh
Built in 1863, the Café Royal is a Victorian gem that joins ornate plasterwork, stained glass and marble to dazzling effect. The highlight here, though, is the unique set of Doulton ceramic murals depicting historical innovators like Watt, Faraday and Caxton. The food is excellent with Scottish classics including Cullen Skin and Arbroath Smokies.

10. The White Lion, Barthomley, Cheshire
The Winner of the Good Pub Guide’s Unspoilt Pub of the Year Award, The White Lion has a fantastic Tudor interior with low beams, a thatched roof and latticed windows. Barthomley itself is a charming village and from the pub garden you can take in views of the early 15th-century church of St Bertoline.

JAMIE OLIVER
Not content with single-handedly saving British school dinners and giving disadvantaged kids a leg up, Jamie Oliver has also opened some of the best restaurants around. He’s part of a reborn UK eating scene that’s seen Britain fall in love with fine produce, locally sourced ingredients and innovative cooking.

With London leading the way as the world's most exciting dining city, you’ll find restaurants serving food from every corner of the world, cosy pubs with traditional menus, sophisticated eateries offering internationally celebrated cuisine and more. So whether you want crab sandwiches on a sun-drenched Devon quayside, the sweetest Scottish raspberries, tempting Gower Salt Marsh Lamb or culinary magic at Heston Blumenthal’s world-famous Fat Duck restaurant, you’ll find British food a feast of inspiration.

Monuments

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WORLD HERITAGE SITES
Cultural riches and natural beauty

Did you know that Britain has 25 UNESCO World Heritage Sites? These range from sites of natural beauty like the Dorset and East Devon Coast to cultural riches such as the Tower of London and Stonehenge.

London
England's capital has some of the most iconic sites in the world, many of which are protected by World Heritage status. Step back in time at William the Conqueror's imposing Tower of London and see the Crown Jewels. Discover Westminster Abbey, the burial place of scores of great Britons from Charles Darwin to Charles Dickens and discover Maritime Greenwich, home of Christopher Wren's baroque masterpiece, the Old Royal Naval College and the Cutty Sark - the world's last surviving tea clipper ship.

And if all that history proves a little exhausting, head west and recharge your batteries at Kew Gardens, home to 300 acres of enchanting greenery, ancient trees, palm houses and even a treetop walkway.

England
For thousands of years of history and soaring architecture, explore the great cathedrals of Durham and Canterbury and the largest monastic ruin in Britain, Fountains Abbey. To follow in the footsteps of Roman invaders, a trip to Hadrian's Wall is a must, and if you're interested in our industrial heritage don't miss Derwent Valley Mills, Saltaire, Ironbridge or the Cornwall and West Devon mining Landscape from where mining technologies spread across the world.

And if you want to explore one of the world's biggest mysteries, head to Stonehenge, the most famous megalithic (literally meaning ‘big stone’) monument in the world. Dating back an amazing 50,000 years, it’s drawn visitors for literally millennia.

Visit the city of Bath, famous for its associations with Jane Austen, to see its ancient Roman Baths, the elegant Pulteney Bridge, gorgeous Georgian architecture and Bath Abbey. Not far from here is the birthplace of Winston Churchill, Blenheim Palace near Oxford. It's a perfectly preserved 18th-century stately home set in a 2,100-acre park landscaped by 'Capability' Brown.

Further north, Liverpool is recognised as a ‘supreme example’ of a British port at the time of Britain’s greatest global influence and it's here where you can see the towering Liver Building, the Albert Dock and take a ferry across the Mersey river.

Elsewhere, The Dorset and East Devon Coast, also known as The Jurassic Coast was the first ever site to be inscribed as a 'natural' World Heritage Site. It spans 95 miles of dramatic coastline that's exposed to provide an almost continuous geological 'walk through time' spanning 185 million years of the Earth's history.

Scotland
Any trip to Scotland would have to include a trip to Edinburgh, the Scottish capital. The Old Town, topped by the castle, oozes history and a stroll along its cobbled streets and dark alleyways is a walk through time. The Georgian New Town is equally evocative with its graceful crescents, squares and terraces.

West of Edinburgh you'll find New Lanark, a small and beautifully restored 18th-century cotton mill village set in the gorgeous Scottish countryside. Further north is Orkney, a group of islands in Northeast Scotland home to prehistoric monuments that predate the Egyptian pyramids.

St Kilda, in Scotland's famous Outer Hebrides is one of only 24 locations in the world to be awarded World Heritage Status for both natural and cultural significance. Uninhabited since 1930, St Kilda bears the evidence of more than 2,000 years of human occupation and is the most important seabird breeding station in north-west Europe.

Wales
In a land of castles, Harlech, Conwy, Caernarfon and Beaumaris stand out for their sheer scale and sophistication. Well-preserved, atmospheric and enormous they represent the pinnacle of medieval military architecture.

More recent, but no less impressive, is Britain’s newest World Heritage Site, the longest and highest aqueduct in Britain. Towering 126ft above the River Dee, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is a 200-year-old engineering marvel. It looks fantastic from a distance but walking or travelling by canal boat over the top is truly exhilarating.

Not far from Cardiff is Blaenavon, an area shaped by the coal and iron industries. It highlights the importance of South Wales in the world's production of coal and iron in the 19th century.

Museums

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FREE MUSEUMS IN BRITAIN
With thousands of free museums in Britain to choose from, you’ll be missing out if you don’t visit at least one. History, design, science, giant stuffed walruses – at Britain’s free museums you can indulge your particular (or peculiar) passion without spending a penny.

London museums
It’ll come as no surprise that the free museums in London are among the biggest in Britain. Discover Aztec art and Egyptian mummies at the world-famous British Museum ; marvel at the fascinating dinosaur exhibition and iconic blue whale at the Natural History Museum ; take the kids along for the interactive exhibits and awe-inspiring objects at the Science Museum and immerse yourself in all things art and design at the V&A Museum, all in London and all for free.

Other free museums in Britain
The museum magic doesn’t stop in the capital. Liverpool has one of the most impressive collections of free museums outside of London, including the newly opened Museum of Liverpool, which documents the history of the city. Glasgow’s Riverside Museum is another new addition to the museum circuit. Inside, it’s Scotland’s Museum of Transport, outside, it’s a waterfront landmark designed by internationally-renowned architect, Zaha Hadid.

There are also loads of smaller museums with plenty of weird and wonderful sights to behold for free. London’s Horniman Museum is home to an overstuffed walrus – you’ll find him in the taxidermy collection, along with the story of the taxidermist who had never seen a walrus before so stuffed the animal’s saggy skin too tight. In the Guildhall, Leicester, you can step back in time and come face to face with 'Crankie Gemmie' and 'Emma Smith', two of Leicester's notorious pick-pockets who can be found lurking within the Victorian police cells. And don’t miss the Leeds Tiger and the Leeds Mummy at the Leeds City Museum.

National Parks

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Putting the "great" in the great outdoors.

There are 15 National Parks in Britain and they contain some of the nation's most beautiful and inspiring landscapes. They attract around 100 million visitors every year who flock to enjoy the leisure opportunities the parks provide.

You’ll find some of Britain’s best walking, cycling and horse riding locations and a whole host of other adventure activities. Add to these 15 national trails and nearly 50 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and you’ll find you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to exploring Britain’s famous countryside. The 15 National Parks are:

England

South West: Dartmoor & Exmoor
These two areas of moorland are beautiful, expansive, wind-scoured and truly wild. You can camp wild on Dartmoor and both are superb for walking and hiking, have unique species of pony and are excellent areas for horse riding.

South East: New Forest & South Downs
The New Forest National Park is celebrated for its ancient woodland and heathland first given protection by William the Conqueror nearly 1,000 years ago. Ponies graze on wild heaths speckled with purple heather and wild deer flit beneath gnarled oak and beech trees. To the east of the New Forest lie the South Downs, an area stretching 100 miles from the edge of Winchester to Beachy Head. It’s best known for its famous rolling downlands that lead to the white, sheer cliffs at Seven Sisters and Beachy Head.

East: The Broads
This great, flat expanse of Eastern England punctuated by wide expanses of water is one of the most important wetland areas in Europe. Its 125 miles of waterways are best navigated by boat and our peppered with great pubs, historic churches and distinctive windmills.

Heart of England: Peak District
Britain's first national park and Europe's busiest is a diverse landscape, comprising heather-sprayed moorland, murky limestone caves, gentle hills and gritstone outcrops. It straddles several counties in central northern England, is a centre for rock climbing and is the landscape that inspired Jane Austen.

North West: Lake District
From 16 sparkling lakes and England’s highest mountains, to sheltered valleys and salty seascapes, Cumbria and the Lake District have inspired and captivated generations of visitors and famous writers and poets such as William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter. But there’s more to see than just scenery. The area has a rich heritage to discover, a vibrant and contemporary cultural scene, and a growing reputation for fine food and drink.

North East: Northumberland, North York Moor & Yorkshire Dales
Listen to the call of the upland birds, saunter through picturesque villages of honey sandstone, build sandcastles or sit and watch the world go by. All around are the signs of past generations - historic abbeys, embattled castles, churches, crosses and ancient trackways. Northumberland National Park stretches from Hadrian’s Wall to the Scottish border while the North York Moor spread westwards from the east coast of Yorkshire. The Yorkshire Dales park straddles the central Pennines in the counties of North Yorkshire and Cumbria and is a favourite destination for walkers, cyclists and horse-riders.

Scotland

Central Highlands: Cairngorms
Explore one of the last real wildernesses in Europe, home to red deer, osprey and golden eagle. Its mountains, glens and shimmering lochs have inspired generations of visitors and for many its stark grandeur is the quintessential Scottish landscape.

Central: Loch Lomond and the Trossachs
The ‘bonnie bonnie banks’ of Loch Lomond as immortalised in song and verse are a true taste of the Scottish Highlands just under an hour from Glasgow. Take a steamer across the loch, climb lofty Ben Lomond, visit Rob Roy’s grave or try local whisky at the Loch Lomond Distillery.

Wales

North: Snowdonia
Wales’ famous uplands are known for their craggy mountains, brooding natural landscapes and grey-green slate villages. You’ll also find secluded valleys, Snowdonia’s famous heritage steam railways and some of Britain’s most imposing castles.

South: Brecon Beacons
The Brecon Beacons National Park is an area of spectacular landscape that covers 542 square miles in Mid Wales. Stretching from Hay-on-Wye in the east to Llandeilo in the west, it includes four ranges of mountains; the Black Mountains, the Central Beacons, Fforest Fawr and the Black Mountain (Mynydd Du). Don’t miss the charming village of Crickhowell and Abergavenny, renowned for its food festival.

South East: Pembrokeshire
Britain's only truly coastal national park is a sweeping crescent of jagged cliffs, sandy beaches, wooded estuaries and wild hills, a place of sanctuary for wildlife and a centre for water sports. You’ll also find Britain’s smallest city, the charming St David’s, and the 186 mile Pembrokeshire Coast Path that boasts some of Britain’s best sea views.

National Trails
The 15 national trails of England and Wales provide walkers, cyclists and horse riders with around 2,500 miles (4,000km) of long distance paths extending through Britain’s countryside.

They have been constructed by joining existing paths and trails together to give maximum access to outdoor spaces traversing some of the finest natural landscapes in England and Wales, including national parks and ‘areas of outstanding natural beauty’. In Scotland there are 4 equivalent trails known as ‘long distance routes’.

For anyone interested in cycling, walking or horse riding, the trails provide a fantastic leisure resource and are well worth a visit.

Areas of outstanding natural beauty
‘precious landscapes whose distinctive character and natural beauty are so outstanding that it is in the nation's interest to safeguard them.’

Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) landscapes range from coastline to water meadows, and there are 40 in England and Wales (35 in England, 4 in Wales and 1 which straddles the border) and 9 in Northern Ireland.

If it is natural beauty you seek, areas of outstanding natural beauty are bound to please.

Places

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Take a city break

Thriving centres for arts, industry and commerce, Britain's cities and towns are some of the world's most culturally diverse. And from the frenetic metropolis of London to the stately allure of Edinburgh, you'll find them a joy to discover.

London
England’s dynamic capital is Europe’s most diverse metropolis. Gleaming skyscrapers stand alongside ancient monuments and Victorian cobbled streets are lined with fashionable shops selling the latest designs. Discover 4 UNESCO World Heritage Sites (including the Tower of London), chill out in 8 lush Royal Parks and take in some fabulous free museums. There’s also shopping from flea markets to luxury stores like Harrods and Liberty as well as a world-renowned eating scene.

Edinburgh
Get lost in the cobbled alleyways of the Old Town, admire the Georgian splendour of the New Town and climb Calton Hill for outstanding views across the city. One of the best times to visit is during summer when the enormous Edinburgh Festival is at its peak.

Cardiff
The thriving metropolis of Cardiff is Wales' capital city. See medieval knights joust at Cardiff Castle, catch major sporting events at the Millennium Stadium or explore the city's rejuvenated waterfront.

Belfast
Belfast has all the buzz of a British capital city with the added bonus of being a gateway to rural Northern Ireland. Within a couple of hours of Belfast, you can marvel at tourist attractions like the Giant's Causeway, walk the Mountains of Mourne or fish in Fermanagh.

Restaurants

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CELEBRITY CHEF RESTAURANTS
Off the TV and into the kitchen! If you're ever stuck for somewhere to eat in Britain, help is at hand. These restaurants are run by some of our top celebrity chefs, so you're guaranteed a great meal. And you never know who might be working in the kitchen that night!

The Fat Duck Restaurant, Bray
Heston Blumenthal’s 3 Michelin-starred Fat Duck was named Best Restaurant in the World and it’s not hard to see why. Don’t miss the 17-course tasting menu and the wine list with wines from £30 to over £5,000. Blumenthal has a reputation for a scientific approach to cooking that results in flamboyant, theatrical dishes. Try his ‘sound of the sea’ which features seafood and edible seaweed on a bed of sand-like tapioca accompanied by an ipod playing seaside sounds.

Fifteen, London and Watergate Bay, Cornwall
You can find Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurants in London and Watergate Bay in Cornwall. Expect Jamie’s trademark simple, delicious food in a trendy setting, and remember that the money from the bill goes towards training the Fifteen trainee chefs from underprivileged backgrounds.

Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, Oxfordshire
Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir is the only country house hotel in the UK which has achieved 2 Michelin stars for a total of 22 years. You’ll find a sumptuous mix of English country charm and the best continental cooking around. Enjoy the exquisite, modern French menu while taking in the beautiful 2-acre gardens.

Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, London
Restaurant Gordon Ramsay earned the eponymous chef 3 Michelin Stars and is regarded as one of the best restaurants in London. It’s his flagship restaurant, so expect great service, impeccable food and a fabulous wine list.

St John, London
Chef Fergus Henderson owns this London restaurant with restaurateur Trevor Gulliver. Just round the corner from London’s Smithfield market, St John serves great British food made from the finest British produce with an emphasis on traditional meat dishes. If you’re dining in a group try the feasting menu which includes a whole roast suckling pig.

The Seafood Restaurant, Padstow, Cornwall
Just across from Padstow harbour in Cornwall, you’ll find Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant. From the restaurant you can see where the lobster boats and trawlers tie up and much of the fish comes, literally, straight off the boats and in the kitchen door. You can’t get much fresher than that.

Rhodes 24, London
Take a trip to the 24th floor of the City of London’s tallest building, Tower 42, where Gary Rhodes’ 24 serves traditional British food with an innovative twist. Enjoy some of the best views of London while dining on roasted rabbit, monkfish and some great British cheeses.

The River Café, London
The River Cafe in West London was opened by chefs Ruth Rogers and the late Rose Gray. Their cult restaurant was one of the first to bring Italian flavours to London, cooked in a simple, clean style. Signature dishes include chargrilled squid with chilli and rocket and whole pigeon stuffed with thyme and sage. Still phenomenally popular, eating here is a real treat.

Shopping

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From quirky crafts to iconic brands

Get lost in the world’s biggest shoe department at Selfridges, visit the iconic Harrods and buy unique gifts from Scottish tweed to rare Welsh gold. From vintage fashion markets to high-street shops and bespoke tailors to discount stores, we’ve got something for every taste and budget.

If there was an Olympic prize for shopping, there’s no doubt the Brits would win it every time. We take shopping seriously over here, and after years of hard work, we’ve perfected the art of retail therapy with our department stores and shopping centres.

Their department stores are famous all over the world. Take Selfridges, for example. It may be over 100 years old, but with innovative window displays, installations and collaborations with up-and-coming designers, it’s leading the pack and has been named Best Department Store in the World.

They’re also home to Harrods, the luxury department store and London landmark which encompasses seven floors of exquisite collections. Continuing the luxury theme, London is also home to the flagship Harvey Nichols, as well as the historic Liberty, Fortnum & Mason and Fenwick. But if your budget doesn’t allow for luxury, you’re in luck. Nationwide department stores like Debenhams, John Lewis and House of Fraser stock everything from designer diffusion lines and the latest high street trends to homeware and beauty must-haves.

For shopping on a grander scale, look no further than Britain’s plentiful shopping centres. With hundreds of stores under one roof, plus restaurants - and in some cases, cinemas – they are the perfect way to spend the day (and a few pounds). In London, head to Westfield – Europe’s largest urban shopping mall, where you’ll find a mix of designer and high street labels and enough leisure and entertainment to keep you busy all day.

But the amazing shopping opportunities don’t stop in London. In Birmingham, the Bullring is the place to be with 160 stores including its very own Selfridges; Manchester has the Trafford Centre, with over 200 stores, including three department stores; Liverpool One is the heart of Liverpool’s shopping, fashion and leisure scene; Glasgow’s Buchanan Galleries offer the best shopping in the city and in Cardiff, you can’t miss St David’s – Wales’ newest, biggest and best fashion destination.

Sports

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Football, cricket, rugby, golf: name a sport and there's a good chance we Brits invented it, wrote the rules or are just plain obsessed by it. And if playing or watching your favourites isn't enough, why not check out one of our top sporting museums or tours?

Love your football? Then take a tour of your favourite club. Sit in the dug-out at Manchester United, tour the players’ dressing room at Liverpool FC or discover Celtic’s fascinating history. And if you want to re-live the triumphs and tragedies of English international soccer, visit Wembley Stadium where you can see the England changing room and raise a replica FA Cup. The new National Football Museum in Manchester, opened in 2012, also boasts the greatest collection of football memorabilia ever assembled.

More of a cricket fan? Lord’s in London is the spiritual home of cricket in the UK and for many, the world. Visit to see the tiny Ashes urn, hotly contested by England and Australia, and cricketing kit worn by many of the game’s greatest players. London is also home to Wimbledon, the most prestigious tennis tournament in the world, home to an excellent interactive museum where you can take a 'walk-through' of the men's dressing room as it was in the 1980s, with John McEnroe.

And if rugby’s your game, you won’t find more passionate fans than the Welsh. If you’re in Cardiff don’t miss a tour of the magnificent Millennium Stadium for an insider’s guide to this incredible building with its trademark retractable roof. A visit to the World Rugby Museum at Twickenham is also a must.

North of the border, you’ll find the iconic home of golf, St Andrews Old Course in Scotland. Join the hallowed ranks of pro golfers to play the golf course that Tiger Woods calls “the ultimate”. Not far away, the British Golf Museum tells the story of British golf chronologically, exploring the events, personalities and equipment used throughout the ages.

What kind of vacation would you like to take?